Cyclone Nilofar is Oman’s new meteorological nemesis

Image courtesy of http://www.thefrontierpost.com/

Although the tropical cyclone Nilofar has been veering away from Oman’s coast downwind towards Pakistan and India, it had inundated the infrastructure of several areas in the country, including Muzra, Dabab, Al Khabourah, Al Seeb, Al Khoud, Rusayl, Jalan, Sur and Al Ashkara.

Nilofar is a Persian baby name and it means lotus or water lilly.

Flooded valleys have claimed the lives of three people already, including a child, while another person was reported missing. The silver lining is that five people were rescued after their vehicle was swept away by flash flooding in Wadi Hoqain, wilayat of Al Rustaq. The numbers of those injured or stranded without power, and the dollar value to the damages are yet to be determined.

Flooded Valley

The cyclone had crept some 450 kilometers closer to Masirah Island, before deviating towards Pakistan’s Karachi and India’s Gujarat. India’s Meteorological Department has predicted the storm will bring winds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

In response, The Royal Oman Police issued multilingual pictorial advisories to the public to remain safe and to avoid crossing overflowing valleys.

However, and given the country’s history of exposure to cyclones, the Omani authorities have yet to enhance its emergency response protocols, and rethink its infrastructure preparedness for such events, specially in rural areas.

A brief recent history of Oman’s meteorological disasters include:

  • Cyclone Keila in 2011: 14 fatalities were reported, most of them caused by drowning due to floods

  • Cyclone Phet in 2010: 24 fatalities were reported, most of them caused by drowning due to floods, and a reported incident of electrocution in surging water

  • Cyclone Gonu in 2006:  50 fatalities were reported

Let alone the hundreds went missing, hundreds of thousands affected, and billions of dollars lost in damages to property, and the halting of oil and gas coastal and off-shore operations.

Images via The Frontier Post, Rthmc

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